“I was first introduced to alcohol while I was serving in the Army in 1990. It was something I did because everyone else I knew was drinking and having a good time and I wanted to be a part of that. Had I known where that journey would have taken me, I would have steered in another direction. However, on the other hand, my past has made me the man I am today, a child of God and a father of three beautiful children.
I really began to feel like I had a problem with alcohol in 2013 when my youngest son K.C. was taken into DCF custody, but that still wasn’t enough to sober me up. In fact, it only led to more drinking and drug abuse. When I first got involved with KVC, K.C. was removed from his mother’s care. I did everything I needed to get my son back, as far as KVC knew I managed my alcohol and it was not a problem. K.C.’s mother failed to complete any of her case plan and I did everything I needed to do. K.C. was placed in my care. Everything was going great and I loved having my son home. I got along with my Aftercare workers; however, my alcohol intake did not slow down.
In October of 2014, I fell down the stairs while carrying my son upstairs to put him in bed. He had to be life-flighted to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City with a fractured skull. I spent the next five days with him in the hospital until they finally released him back to me. K.C. was soon removed from my care again and put back into a foster home. I was at the beginning of what I would call my eventual rock bottom. When I lost all my privileges, I began to spiral downhill very fast. I felt so alone and hopeless and unworthy as not only a parent, but even as a human being. I thought, ‘I can do this just like last time.’ I was court ordered to carry a mobile breathalyzer to ensure I would not drink. The breathalyzer would go off at the same times during the day and I had to blow in it every time. However, like a typical addict that is determined to drink, I managed to manipulate that. I would time my drinking and be sober when it was time to blow into the device. I thought to myself, ‘I can do this, I don’t drink any more than anyone else, so as long as I can convince KVC, K.C. will come home again.’
I decided to give my life to God and ask for forgiveness. However, that still couldn’t stop me from drinking heavily on the days I didn’t have my little boy with me. I stopped caring about manipulating the breathalyzer, I stopped going to my drug and alcohol counselor, I started cancelling my visits with my son because ‘I was sick.’
In December of 2014, just before Christmas, my case manager, Mandy Lickteig, at KVC made a home visit to my house. She could tell I was at my lowest. She sat down in front of me and told me exactly what I needed to hear and called me out on everything. She confronted me on the alcohol, the substance abuse, and reminded me I was in it for my son. I literally broke down and cried. I told her to leave, and she refused. She continued to talk to me and reassured me I had the potential to do this and she would be with me for anything I needed.
Mandy suggested rehab. Shortly after that meeting, I managed to lose my job. I finally made my way to rehab in Moundridge, Kansas at Valley Hope on January 22, 2015. After a few weeks in rehab, it finally clicked in my brain that I was a good person. That was when I finally surrendered my way of living and started living more for God. I spent 30 days in rehab and then went on to a sober living home in Wichita, Kansas where I stayed until the end of May of 2015.
My fight was not over yet, I lost everything because of alcohol. I didn’t have job or a house. I moved back to Parsons and managed to find a house and job. I was doing great and was two weeks away from having full custody granted to me, and then I relapsed. I got my overnights taken away. I drank for the next 20 days. I went back to supervised visits and was starting all over again. I was so disappointed in myself and someone told me at an AA meeting I had learned a lot in the last 9 months and I still had power to get my life back on track, so I did. I moved away from Parsons back to the Wichita area where I had so many friends in recovery and great supports.
April 1, 2016, I got my son back! I continue to attend recovery meetings and share my story with others because I hope someone might hear my experience and say, ‘Because of you, I am inspired to change my life too.’
Life is not all ice cream and sparkles, sometimes life just happens. I have the tools I need to handle those types of situations without having to get drunk or high. On August 11th of 2018, I will be celebrating 1000 days of being sober. I have learned that above anything else, I have to put God first, then my recovery, and then my family. I know if I don’t have a relationship with God, I will lose my recovery and if I lose my recovery, I am going to lose my son.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Brad Sinkhorn of Wichita, Kansas. A portion of his story originally appeared on KVC Kansas. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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